How you can protect your children from online predators

How you can help protect your children from online predators
Posted at 11:31 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 04:28:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Many parents know summertime means kids are out of school, giving them more time to spend online. With increased online activity, there's a higher risk that children could encounter an online predator.

The FBI's Richmond Office is sharing warning signs that parents should look out for, as well as programs they have in place in case of an emergency.

The department has found in the past few years, about half of the deployment for their abduction team is for teenagers who are meeting people online.

In these types of situations, they send out their Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team (CARD). The team is made up of trained local agents, intel specialists and a support group.

“Hopefully a law enforcement officer never has to experience in their career a missing kid case, whereas the CARD team has deep experience from all the investigations we work,” said Special Agent Michael French with the FBI.

The CARD team is deployed on average 13 times a year nationally for abductions, according to officials. They also train local law enforcement and communities to be ready for emergencies.

Through their experiences they're finding trends, like tracing that predators are using their luring tactics.

“A lot of times they’re trying to build a relationship, a lot of time looking for kids lonely at home or have something going on at home that is making them seek the outside world,” French said.

Parents should look out for a handful of warning signs, including changes in behavior, teenagers being confined to their room more, spending more time on their devices and asking to spend the night with someone they don't know.

They also encourage parents to be aware of the power of giving children cell phones.

“Know the communication of your kids, knowing what they’re doing on their phones, who they are talking to when you’re giving your phone to a child you’re opening a gateway to the entire world for that child,” said French.

If a child goes missing or a parent feels their child was abducted, parents are encouraged to call law enforcement first.

Parents are also encouraged to have their FBI Child ID app downloaded. The app allows you to create profiles for your kids so you can share information with officials.

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